BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech athletics department announced Friday that it is sponsoring an auction that will reward three football game day experiences with members of the equipment room staff, and all proceeds from that auction will be placed in a Virginia Tech Athletic Fund endowment, which funds student-athlete scholarships. The ultimate goal is to establish an endowment in the name of longtime equipment manager Lester Karlin.
“I’m surprised and grateful that the department would do something like this,” Karlin said. “This is something that means so much to me and my family, and I’m very appreciative of the efforts being made.”
The game day experience begins with the Austin Peay game, and the winner gets to bring a friend. He or she and the friend will arrive at the stadium 3.5 hours before kickoff and get to experience a game through the lives of those who work in the equipment room. An equipment room full-time worker, graduate assistant or student will escort the pair throughout the day.
The other two game day experiences up for auction will be for the Bowling Green game on Sept. 22 and the Duke game on Oct. 13.
This experience includes an all-access tour of the equipment room and football facilities, assisting in setting up the Hokies’ locker room before the game, taking a photo with head coach Frank Beamer while holding the prestigious Virginia Tech lunch pail, watching warm-ups and then listening to Beamer’s pregame speech before going through the tunnel and standing on the sideline during the game. The winners will wear the same official Virginia Tech clothing that the coaching staff wears. The experience wraps up with the postgame presentation of the game balls in the locker room.
Karlin, a 1974 graduate of Tech, has worked in the equipment room for 34 years, starting in 1978, and remains one of the most popular people in the Tech athletics department. He also is popular among former players, many of whom keep in touch with him and return to Blacksburg just to see him.
“Working in the equipment room is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a student here back in the early 1970s,” Karlin said. “I just like what I’m doing. I like working with the equipment, and I like the interaction with the coaches and the players.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. A few years ago, we took a team picture at the Gator Bowl, and there were 10 players on the team whose dads played at Tech while I was a student manager. There have been a lot of brothers come through [brother combinations] – I’ve seen three sets of Fullers [Vinnie, Corey and Kyle] and three sets of Warrens [Blake, Brett and Beau]. I’ve worked with a lot of good people and players, and like I said, I just like what I’m doing.”
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